This conversation series is an investigation on the meaning of diversity and representation, as well as the potentials of radically inclusive architectural education and practice in Norway. We talked to architects, designers, artists, human geographers, students and educators about systemic discrimination and oppression in the field of architecture, to then launch a call to action: to deconstruct and rethink, to create change and move toward a more equitable architecture. // Made by Safe Space Collective, i.c.w. ROM for kunst og arkitektur. Sound engineer: Xavier Guinois. Music: Fleur bleu·e.
Episode 6: A queer practice of architecture
As an open end to this cycle of critical dialogue and exchange, we met with three final guests including architects Eirik Stokke and Espen Heggertveit, and architect and teacher Alma Oftedal, to talk about “a queer practice of architecture” as a radically inclusive way of thinking and making in order to move toward a more equitable architecture. We delved into how to demystify the dogma and challenge the normativity in our profession through the conscious act of queering architecture. This conversation was moderated by Safe Space Collective members Bui Quy Son and Paul-Antoine Lucas, and recorded on June 2, 2021.
Episode 5: Environmental justice and the preservation of Sápmi
We invited Astrid Fadnes – architect and writer, and Joar Nango – Sámi architect and artist. We questioned the relationship between architecture and the Sápmi land as well as the environment as a whole, by examining the tourism infrastructure project Arctic Center in Northern Norway. We then discussed the impact of Statsbygg, the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property, and its ignorance of Sámi culture and local residents in general. As architecture is both a gesture of erasure and creation, we need to understand the context in which we build in order not to perpetuate environmental injustice. This conversation was moderated by Safe Space Collective members Paul-Antoine Lucas and Armelle Breuil, and recorded on May 26, 2021.
Episode 4: The right to housing
For this conversation, we invited Ole Pedersen, social entrepreneur; Hanna Asefaw, activist and student in human geography; and Alf-Jørgen Schnell, human geographer. We stressed the urgent need for a radical shift in the way we think about housing by bringing forward the possible establishment of a not-for-profit housing sector in Norway. In a deregulated liberal housing market, the end-user is being ignored, cities’ development is completely profit-driven, and architects are the last to complain about it in public debates. Today, there is a window of opportunity for change, hence it is time we all rally and voice our opinions, and use our knowledge and skills to benefit the common good. This conversation was moderated by Safe Space Collective members Paul-Antoine Lucas and Armelle Breuil, and recorded on May 21, 2021.
Episode 3: Who are we designing for? – Engaged modes of practice
We invited two generations of engaged Norwegian architects Håkon Matre Aasarød together with Else Abrahamsen and Jack Hughes to discuss the question of who we build for. While architecture is rooted in the basic human need for a dignified living space, the access to quality architecture is often determined by the background and capital of the client. By mutualizing our experiences, we argued for different ways of practicing architecture in order to challenge the status quo, and reflected on modalities and methods of how to do so. This conversation was moderated by Safe Space Collective members Bui Quy Son and Armelle Breuil, and recorded on May 19, 2021.
Episode 2: Diversity and representation in architecture and design education
Our guests this time are Tu-Uyen Phan-Nguyen, architecture student; Mikael Oscar Johansen, landscape architecture student; Nebil Zaman, artist and furniture designer; and Josina Vink, professor and researcher in design. We approached topics such as access to design and architecture education, starting from the youth’s exposure to design and artistic fields, to how differences in social and cultural capital hinder some social groups’ access to design education. We also talked about how broadening design education, thinking and practice to be more inclusive of different perspectives and references is essential to deconstructing the hegemony of the privileged majority in our profession. This conversation was moderated by Safe Space Collective members Bui Quy Son and Paul-Antoine Lucas, and recorded on May 13, 2021.
Episode 1: Who gets to be an architect?
Together with architect Gary Bates and interior architect Maisam Mahdi, our conversation unfolded the substantial lack of representation in the professional practice of architecture in Norway, be it in terms of practitioner demographics, or references and peers to be inspired by. Through personal stories which reflect the current and ongoing racism, sexism and protectionism, we tackled the indifference and blindness to social injustice that render architecture an exclusive profession as opposed to its collective and humanistic roots. This conversation was moderated by Safe Space Collective members Bui Quy Son and Armelle Breuil, and recorded on May 1, 2021.